The Secretary General of the East Africa Community, Ambassador Juma Mwapachu has revealed that the five partner states plan to strengthen their defence cooperation in 2010.
Increasing cooperation in defence will involve the upgrading of the existing Memoranda of Understanding on defence matters into a legally binding protocol at a forthcoming forum slated for due in February, Kampala, Uganda.
Mwapachu said this as he outlined the bloc’s strategic direction in 2010.
Echoing, Mwapachu’s call, Defence and Military Spokesperson, Maj. Jill Rutaremara, told The New Times that all the partner states understand the necessity of cooperation.
“The MoU has areas that are meant to, among other things, build confidence among member states and that has been done – number two was issues of bringing Rwanda and Burundi on board, the two are now fully integrated in the bloc’s defence sector,” Rutaremara said.
“Since the two have been achieved, there is need to upgrade the MoU because it is a document that is not legally binding Rwanda is part of all those decisions as all decisions are taken on consensus.”
Rutaremara said it is in the content where we may differ, but not on having the protocol.
“We will examine different protocols and then decide on which one is best for the EAC.”
The bloc’s efforts to foster defence cooperation last year included joint military exercises by the EAC Partner States’ armies as well as the first-ever EAC Peace and Security Conference held in Kampala.
In addition to hosting a special forum on defence this year, the bloc will also host other important events including the 3rd East African Investment Conference, a high-level conference on railway development and the EAC conference on food security and climate change.